Birth control and Buddhism

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Dhammanando
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Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by Dhammanando » Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:03 am

D1W1 wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 4:53 pm


It's not to abort the developing of fertilized egg because nothing to abort. AFAIK, birth control pills work in three ways, stopping sperm and egg from meeting, stopping the ovulation and they thin the inner lining of the uterus in case the first and second method fail. Other form of birth control such as IUD makes sperm difficult to reach and fertilized the egg. if it's fertilized, the egg will stop from developing because the uterus is inhospitable. We only know pregnancy does not happen but we can't really tell if the abortion is happening in the body or not. If the intention to prevent conception is danger and the intention to kill is also danger, then there is no difference.
My response was concerned only with those means of birth control that may either work by preventing conception or by inducing abortion, with no certainty as to which outcome will occur.

Methods that can only do one thing or the other are pretty black and white as far as kamma is concerned. With one you're killing a human being, with the other you're not.

But with methods that are of variable outcome I think it is better to appeal to other considerations than kamma in counselling against their use. Ahimsa and compassion, for example. Appealing to kamma may simply lead someone to recklessly rationalize that she'll use the pill with the intention of preventing conception and if it happens to result in an abortion... too bad, it wasn't what she intended, so no akusala kamma.

D1W1
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Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by D1W1 » Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:57 am

Dhammanando wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:03 am
D1W1 wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 4:53 pm


It's not to abort the developing of fertilized egg because nothing to abort. AFAIK, birth control pills work in three ways, stopping sperm and egg from meeting, stopping the ovulation and they thin the inner lining of the uterus in case the first and second method fail. Other form of birth control such as IUD makes sperm difficult to reach and fertilized the egg. if it's fertilized, the egg will stop from developing because the uterus is inhospitable. We only know pregnancy does not happen but we can't really tell if the abortion is happening in the body or not. If the intention to prevent conception is danger and the intention to kill is also danger, then there is no difference.
My response was concerned only with those means of birth control that may either work by preventing conception or by inducing abortion, with no certainty as to which outcome will occur.

Methods that can only do one thing or the other are pretty black and white as far as kamma is concerned. With one you're killing a human being, with the other you're not.

But with methods that are of variable outcome I think it is better to appeal to other considerations than kamma in counselling against their use. Ahimsa and compassion, for example. Appealing to kamma may simply lead someone to recklessly rationalize that she'll use the pill with the intention of preventing conception and if it happens to result in an abortion... too bad, it wasn't what she intended, so no akusala kamma.

Bad kamma results in suffering and good kamma results in happiness. I believe there are many vegetarians, particularly from other sects of Buddhism, choose not to eat meat saying that by doing that they make contribution to the death of an animal. It's a good thing to do I think to know the earliest teaching of the Buddha, we can push ethics and morality as far as we want.

In order to complete the karma of killing, all requirements have to be fulfilled:
1. A living being
2. Awareness that is a living being
3. Intention to kill
4. Method to kill
5. The living being dies

Both vegetarians and the person who uses contraception do not have intention to kill. Neither meat is a living being nor sperm or ovum. If we can be a good Theravadin non-vegetarian Buddhist then why we can't be a good lay person who uses contraception, is there any difference?

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Dhammanando
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Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by Dhammanando » Wed Oct 24, 2018 11:38 am

D1W1 wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:57 am
If we can be a good Theravadin non-vegetarian Buddhist then why we can't be a good lay person who uses contraception, is there any difference?
As I've already said, as far as abstention from killing is concerned there's nothing morally problematic about contraceptives, i.e., methods employed to prevent conception from taking place. I'm afraid I don't see what relevance vegetarianism might have here.

justindesilva
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Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by justindesilva » Wed Oct 24, 2018 5:08 pm

Some time back during a buddhist sermon I heard that a foetus may not mature to come out of the womb as it may be its kamma. But since then I was thinking whether this argument of kamma on the foetus of a being could be correct. Can this view be substantiated . It may be the kamma of the mother or the one to be borne.

D1W1
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Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by D1W1 » Thu Oct 25, 2018 10:55 am

Dhammanando wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 11:38 am
D1W1 wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:57 am
If we can be a good Theravadin non-vegetarian Buddhist then why we can't be a good lay person who uses contraception, is there any difference?
As I've already said, as far as abstention from killing is concerned there's nothing morally problematic about contraceptives, i.e., methods employed to prevent conception from taking place. I'm afraid I don't see what relevance vegetarianism might have here.
Contraception that prevents fertilization is not an issue, bhante, as mentioned earlier. Some hormonal contraceptions work more than one way, the goal is to prevent pregnancy, in case the prevention of fertilization is failed they will prevent implantation, which can be regarded as abortion by some people. However, the intention to abort does not exist.
Dhammanando wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:03 am
But with methods that are of variable outcome I think it is better to appeal to other considerations than kamma in counselling against their use. Ahimsa and compassion, for example. Appealing to kamma may simply lead someone to recklessly rationalize that she'll use the pill with the intention of preventing conception and if it happens to result in an abortion... too bad, it wasn't what she intended, so no akusala kamma.
From what I understand, what you said above is contraception that might prevent implantation of fertilized egg in uterus is acceptable and not morally evil, because it's not what she intended. However, we need to consider harmlessness. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Can you refer me to any source that says this kind of contraception is acceptable?

I see many Buddhists avoid this type of birth control, they only choose contraceptions that the only function is to prevent fertilization, which is a good thing but have considerably high failure rate at the same time. If we disregard Ahimsa in this context, how serious is the consequences? If we push ethics too far, we can't do anything, at least for lay people. I read somewhere, if there is consciousness in the newly created zygote, it is comparable to a person under a deep anesthetic or a deep coma. Is it worth considering?
Last edited by D1W1 on Thu Oct 25, 2018 11:01 am, edited 2 times in total.

D1W1
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Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by D1W1 » Thu Oct 25, 2018 10:57 am

justindesilva wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 5:08 pm
Some time back during a buddhist sermon I heard that a foetus may not mature to come out of the womb as it may be its kamma. But since then I was thinking whether this argument of kamma on the foetus of a being could be correct. Can this view be substantiated . It may be the kamma of the mother or the one to be borne.
Their kamma is interconnected, in my opinion.

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Dhammanando
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Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by Dhammanando » Thu Oct 25, 2018 11:11 am

D1W1 wrote:
Thu Oct 25, 2018 10:55 am
Can you refer me to any source that says this kind of contraception is acceptable?
As there wasn't any such means of birth control in the Buddha's day unsurprisingly there are no canonical teachings on the subject. So all we have are personal opinions (attanomati). Mine, as already stated, is that a birth control method that might act as an abortifacient is best avoided, for in using it one might end up killing a human being, even though one didn't intend this and was hoping merely to prevent conception. The killing of a human is a most unfortunate thing to happen to the human that gets killed, even in scenarios where it doesn't result in any unwholesome kamma for the person responsible.

Still, as I said, it's just one monk's attanomati, so you needn't feel obliged to agree.

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